Page last updated at 23:23 GMT, Sunday, 12 October 2008 00:23 UK

'Gruesome' snare deaths revealed

Fox in a snare
Animal rights campaigners say snaring controls do not go far enough

Animal rights campaigners have called for a ban on snaring as a report revealed a "gruesome catalogue" of animal killing and suffering.

The League against Cruel Sports claimed it found "widespread bad practice" on Scottish shooting estates during a four-year investigation.

It said the Scottish Government's new controls did not go far enough.

However, the government said it was considering new penalties to punish people who use snares illegally.

A spokeswoman said the measures announced in February strictly limit the use of snares and ban those capable of inflicting unnecessary suffering.

In its report, "Blood on the Wire", the league claims its investigators found widespread use of "brutal" snares, some of which breached industry codes of good practice.

As this report shows, regulation has not worked in the past and will not work in the future.
Louise Robertson
League Against Cruel Sports

At Manderston House in the Borders, undercover investigators allege they found snares attached to wooden dragpoles, which go against the shooting industry's own best practice guidelines.

Dragpoles are pieces of wood or logs that are not fixed to the ground and an animal caught in a snare set on a dragpole can drag the snare away and not be found and dealt with humanely.

The estate's owner Lord Palmer said he had a shooting tenant who had complete responsibility for management of the shoot.

He said: "As far as I'm aware everything that is being carried out with regard to vermin control is completely and utterly within the law and obviously he has my full support.

"There is no illegal snaring or trapping and never has been on the estate."

The tenant, Christian Korsten, refused to comment.

On another estate, investigators claim they found 16 mountain hares dead in snares this year, though the league understands the estate does not have a licence to kill hares.

It said the snares were not checked every 24 hours to release or humanely deal with the hares.

Instead rotting carcasses were still attached to many of the snares, meaning the hares would have suffered a "slow, lingering death".

'Slow death'

Gin traps, heavy steel devices with razor sharp teeth that were outlawed more than 30 years ago, were allegedly found in 2004.

They were set in a circle around rabbit carcasses left out as bait.

The traps do not kill animals outright but hold them in place until they are found.

Investigators also claim they found piles of rotting animal carcasses, which they assumed were being used as bait to lure other animals towards nearby snares.

The report states: "The new measures are simply a way of regulating cruelty because as long as snares are legal animals will be caught in them and will suffer horrific injuries often resulting in a slow painful death.

"There is no way to make snares truly target-selective and enforcing regulations regarding frequency of checking is impossible."

Louise Robertson, the league's Scottish campaigns manager, said: "As this report shows, regulation has not worked in the past and will not work in the future.

"The simple fact that the new measures have yet to be implemented highlights a distinct lack of commitment from the government on this issue."

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